How to make a Symbol with CC2

These are the instructions posted to the CC2 List for construction of a Symbol during the Symbol Challenge. You do not have to wait for the next challenge to make a Symbol. If you need any help, drop me a line at jcsaky@earthlink.net.

Command Name: Define Symbol Dialog
Menu Location: None (CC2 v 6.0x <I'm unsure of which Add-On> or CC2Pro)
Context Menu: None
Text Equivalent: DEFSYMD

This Command brings up a Dialog for Symbol Creation, which allows some additional controls over Symbol creation.

Normally you would use Define Symbol (DEFSYM) where the Command Line prompts you to enter a name for the Symbol you are creating. After hitting Enter CC2, you will be prompted for the Symbol Origin, which you select with cursor. (The one problem with this method, is the Origin, does not have to be anywhere on the Symbol or even near the Symbol. Accidental clicks have led to interesting Symbol placement in the future!) After selecting the Origin you will be prompted to Select Entities. This is where you select the Entities that will make up the Symbol. Once you have selected all the desired Entities you just need to right click and select OK Do It to complete the Command. The selected Entities will disappear and they will be a Defined Symbol within the current drawing under the Name you typed at the beginning of this process. To create a Catalog all you need to do is use Save As to save the current Drawing as a Catalog after cleaning up the Layering, Fills, Extra Symbols that happen to be defined in the Drawing, and the Drawing Window. To avoid the accidental destruction of a current work I prefer to only create and define Symbols in a special Template, the Symbol Catalog.FCT Template that comes with CC2. (Contained in the CC2\Templates Folder)

With Symbol Definition Dialog (DEFSYMD) the steps are almost complete reversed. You are first prompted to select all the Entities that will make up the new Symbol, and then you right click and select OK Do It. This brings up the Symbol Definition Dialog Box where you have several choices to make as well as enter the Name (with or without a Prefix), the Origin and in addition you will have the option to place a Bounding Entity around the Symbol or a Box or a Circle and how far it will be Offset (Default is None for no Bounding Entity). The Bounding Entity is visible, but some enterprising individual may find uses for this feature. I have used the Circle to highlight some Modern mapping Symbols that I have created to a good effect. I am sure there are other uses so play around with this feature when you have the time.

Now you know how to define a Symbol, but you may want to know what is needed to make a Symbol. I like to describe a Symbol as a very small drawing that you want to use over and over, again and again. Technically that is all a Symbol is. There are some guidelines to making a Symbol so it is useable over and over again. What follows is a list of most of those Guidelines and Tips to the making of a Symbol.

First letís take a look at a current Symbol. Using the File>New>to bring up the Template Browse Feature. Select Path and Open the CC2\Templates Directory and select the Symbol Catalog.FCT. This will Open a New Drawing Window using the Symbol Catalog Template. This Template is special because it does not have any Symbols or Symbol Fills defined. You can check this by clicking on the Drawing Button of the Symbol Catalog and with all Layers displayed the Drawing Catalog should be Empty. First make sure that the Symbol Definition Layer is the Current Layer. Next select the Filled Mountain Catalog for your Current Catalog and insert Mountain 1 into your Drawing. (If you want, select a Symbol from the same Category as the Symbol you want to create and Insert it into the Drawing Window.) If you check using the Drawing Button of the Catalog now you will see that the Symbol you inserted is now defined in the Drawing. You are going to use this Symbol for Scale and for a Reference while you design your Symbol.

First you need to Explode the Mountain Symbol. This will allow you to access each element of the Symbol. A short interlude: Hide all Layers, except the Symbol Definition Layer. Notice that all the Elements of the Symbol are on the Symbol Definition Layer after it is exploded. This will be true even if this Symbol was placed on another Layer before it the Explode Command was used (go ahead and try it.). THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! All the elements of a standard Symbol need to be on the Symbol Definition Layer if the Symbol is going to function properly.

Now you need to Purge the Symbols in the Drawing. Make sure all the Symbols you have inserted into the Drawing have been exploded. Then select Symbols>Symbol Manager and click on the Purge Button. You will get a message warning you that this cannot be undone; since you are using the Symbol Catalog Template you do not want any Symbols in the Drawing, so click OK. If you click the Drawing button of the Symbol Catalog, you will see that there are no Symbols in the Drawing, but the Exploded Image of the Symbol you inserted is still there.

Now letís look at the elements that made the Mountain 1 Symbol. If you choose Info>Count and select all the elements of the Mountain 1 Symbol, you will see there are 5 parts taking up about 45k. Using Edit>Single Entities>Properties (it is the Icon Button that has a green triangle in the lower left corner with a white 'C' on the triangle.) Select each Element of the Symbol. The Symbol is made up of three triangle shaped elements and two black lines to highlight. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! For a Symbol to be visible while placing or moving the Symbol using the Dynamic capabilities of CC2, it MUST have an odd number of Elements at it edge. (A Filled Entity with an Outline is an even number of Entities, so you would need to add a second Outline to make it have an odd number of Entities along the edge. This is why many Simple Symbols have 2 outlines.) If you look closely at the Mountain 1 Symbol the two outside angles are not visible when placing the Symbol. (At least they are not in the Catalog I have!) With a complex Symbol such as a City or Dungeon Symbol this could make Placement of the Symbol difficult at best.

Now you are ready to make your Symbol. Start by using a similar type of Symbol that you inserted earlier for Scale (even if it was exploded, you can still use it for Scale) draw the rough shape for the Symbol. Do not use Smooth Entities, when a Symbol is done the rough edges will not be noticeable. You will need to make use of Layers, Copy to Layer (to transfer an Element if the edge is needed for the next Element.), and Modifiers just as if you were drawing a Map. Keep the drawing simple and Zoom Out ever now and again to see how it looks at the size it would be used. When it comes to Symbols 'Less is Best!' If you get too much detail the Symbol will look like a black blob and it will take too long to draw if you have an excessive number of Elements. In most cases you do not want the Elements to be stacked. You can use Multipolys in Symbols, but if you must, they must be defined on the Symbol Definition Layer. In most cases you can copy an Element that you need a section of, by using Modifiers or the Attach Button.

Once you are SURE that you have the Symbol the way you want use Change Layer to move all the Elements to the Symbol Definition Layer. Now you are ready to Define the Symbol. You can Save it as a Drawing or a Catalog while you are working on it, and I recommend that you do Save often when making Symbols. I draw a group and then define them all at one time when they are ready.

One last comment. Once you have Defined a Symbol you can make corrections, additions, modifications, and changes using the Symbol Edit Command in Symbol Manager. If you like a Symbol and want to do a variation, Clone the Symbol and then Edit the Clone. Have fun, and make a Symbol today.

Varicolored

Changeable Color (CHGCBB) or Varicolored allows you to make a Symbol with a Changeable Color Elements: Before you define a Symbol you can select one or more Elements to have a Changeable Color. This use to be accomplished using Color 31. The procedure now is much easier. When you are done or nearly done with the Symbol design use Symbol>Make Varicolored (CHGCBB) and then select the Elements you desire to have change depending on the Current Color when the Symbol is placed. This is useful in Heraldry and in some basic Symbols where you want Color to be used as an indicator or to allow for more variations of a particular Symbol.

Once you have the Symbol the way you want you need to Add Symbol Info, which is under the Symbol Menu. This will bring up a Dialog Box and you need to check the Box saying Varicolored Symbol.

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Super-Varicolored

Super-Varicolored is an update to the Changeable Color. SuperVaricolored allows you to make Symbols similar to the Change Color Command, but with various shades of the chosen color. This is useful when making Symbols for Heraldry, CA, Fabrics, as well as any other situation that you want to create a Symbol to that has subtle shadings and highlights. This feature makes use of specifically named Layers. Anything placed on these Layers will be the selected color (Layer VARICOLOR+0) or a shade darker (Layer VARICOLOR-1) or lighter (Layer VARICOLOR+1). If you desire to have an entity even lighter or darker you just need to add the appropriate Layers where the number after the '+' or '-' is the number of steps away from the selected color.

Before you define your Symbol, or while you are creating the Symbol add new layers named for the various shading and highlights you want for that particular Symbol. (IE: VARICOLOR+0, VARICOLOR+1, VARICOLOR-1) Anything you place on these layers will appear with a color equal to the current color, plus the number after the layer name, when you insert the symbol. With the layers above, for example, if the current color was 166, the symbol would appear in colors 166, 167, and 165.

Once you have the Symbol the way you want you need to Add Symbol Info, which is under the Symbol Menu. This will bring up a Dialog Box and you need to check the Box saying Varicolored Symbol.

You are ready to Save the Symbol using the DEFSYMD Command.

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Grouping Per Symbols or other Symbols

Anyone that has Per is aware of the Grouping of Symbols to save room in the Catalogs. This is done through Add Symbol Info, which is under the Symbol Menu. This feature allows you to Group Symbols that have the same name with either a variable number OR letter suffix. They also have to be adjacent to each other in the Catalog for this feature to work. NOTE: This process must be done after the Symbols are defined and properly named and placed in the Catalog.

In the Add Symbol Info Dialog you need to check the top box "This Symbol is part of a collection" For Per Symbols you also need to check the Box allow Symbols to be selected by the Arrow Keys. (Arrow Keys select different Symbols.) Close the Edit Window and click on the Yes Button for accepting the changes. You must do the first Symbol in the group first followed by the second, third, then forth.

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Attributes

<NOTE: This does not work with some later versions of CC2 due to a programming error, but I hope Simon will soon have the fix. I personally am running out things to do on several Maps while waiting for the fix. I am tempted to load up an older version of CC2 on my Laptop just so I can finish some of these maps. There is a work around but it involves exchanging some Files.>

Define Attribute (ATTRIB): This tool allows you to add some sort of Text to the Symbol. I used this to create Contour Labels and some special building Symbols for a project. Before the Symbol is Defined use Define Attribute to add the Text. The Text will be added based on the Text Properties in the Symbol Drawing when the Attribute is defined, not the Values in the Drawing the Symbol is inserted. Make sure you make it of a size that will be readable when the Symbol is used as you intend. The Text will get larger or smaller when the Symbol is Scaled as it is inserted.

There are several parts to Attributes.

  • The Tag is the General Description of the Attribute.
  • The Prompt is what message you want to appear to remind you what to enter.
  • The Default Value is what will appear if you enter nothing as you insert the Symbol. If you do not enter a Default Value and do not enter a Value as the Symbol is Inserted the Tag will become the Default.

Hidden hides the information when the Symbol is Inserted. Constant prevents the Attribute information from being changed. Display Tag will cause the Tag to be displayed when inserted instead of the Value.

You can have more than one Attribute. A good use is to Name the City, the Population (Hidden), Ruler (Hidden), Government Type (this might be Constant for certain type of Symbol), etc... (Hiding most of the Attributes). If you have more than one it is a good idea to decide before you start Defining Attributes what order you want the information to be organized. (City name, Government type, Ruler, Population, Army size, etc...) The reason for this is once all the Symbols are inserted you can call up the Attributes using Symbols> Extract Attributes.  This will display all the Attributes in a Drawing in a Text Window which then can be printed out just like any other Text Window.

Symbols with Displayed Attributes have a limited space. The way I deal with this is to place a Message in my Prompt about Text Limits. Always use a Center placement in Text Properties when making Attributes. This will allow varying lengths of Text and all Text will appear Centered no matter what length.

When creating Symbols with Attributes you need to be aware of a curious behavior when converting the Map to JPG or PNG File Types. The Text in an Attribute Display the Default Value in the Symbol. If no Value is entered in a Symbol the Prompt will become the Default Value. The work around is to not enter any Default Value for the Prompt since it becomes the Default Value, which will show up in both PNG and JPG. Tag 2 is another work around for the times you need a specific prompt (IE: Multiple Attributes) for these situations you can use the Spacebar for your Default Value! (It just makes finding the Center a little harder!!)

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Control Points

Add Control Points (CTRLP): This is used when creating Smart Symbols. This is normally used with City Symbols to make them 'Auto magically' align to roads. I call it Auto magically because it is not automatic, with some Entities it does not work the way one would hope. In those cases it is often easier to disable the Smart Symbols and Smart Tracking. Dungeon and Floor Plan Symbols also use Control Points. With the latter the Control Points are placed on the Symbol Definition Layer. When using them in City Symbols they are placed on the Structure (Outline) Layer. Red is normally used or Control Points when using them in City Symbols and Gray (16) is used in the Dungeon Symbols I have checked. When the Symbol is defined Control Points are not visible.

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City Symbol Layering

City Symbols are defined on various Structure Layers they are as follows:

  • STRUCTURES (COLORS): This Layer allows you to use the Symbol as an indicator of the use or for some other reason when mapping. This Layer is on the bottom (Backed)
  • STRUCTURES (FILL STYLE) This Layer is used for the Roof Hatching if the Symbol has any. This Layer is on the top. (Fronted)
  • STRUCTURES (OUTLINE): This Layer is used for the Outline and the Control Points. Normally this Layer is also on top along with the Fill Style Layer.
  • STRUCTURES (SHADING): This Layer is used for the two tones of the Symbol that makes half of the roof look as if it is Shadowed. This Layer is on top of the STRUCTURES (COLOR) Layer, but beneath the STRUCTURES (FILL STYLE) and STRUCTURES (OUTLINE) Layers.

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Character Artist Symbol Layering

Besides special Layer, CA Symbols require special treatment when creating the Symbol. The Origin must be located at a specific point so it will correctly align with other CA Symbols. The best way to achieve this is to create a special Template for CA Symbol Construction that has a Torso with each of the various Body Parts already attached. Insert the Symbols at 0,0 so it is easy to set the origin when you define your Symbol. If you place these on specific Layers you can include each type of Arm Style. You only need to do this for the Human Male and Human Female, since the rest are the same, just a different Scale. The chart is in the Manual.

Unfortunately not all CA Symbols were created using the same Layer protocols. The Layers I use are...

  • OUTLINE This Layer contains the Outline of the object. I like this on a separate Layer, so I can hide it to make the finished drawing look better. It is nice to have this if you ever want to edit the Symbol down the road.
  • SHADING This Layer contains the main color of the Symbol. If you are using Super Varicolored, this would be VARICOLOR+0.
  • SHADING 2 This Layer is used in some of the Symbols for highlights and shadows. Super Varicolored would use the needed VARICOLOR+ or - ' # '.
  • DETAIL This Layer contains those small details that are needed to dress out the Symbol. It could be lines to show wrinkles or color of eyes.

You can use the SYMBOL DEFINITION Layer instead of OUTLINE,SHADING, SHADING 2, and DETAIL, but if you are making use of Super Varicolored you will still need those Layers.